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16 February 2023

Commissioning, a step not to be overlooked

Why is commissioning a critical step for a data center?

What is commissioning?

Commissioning is an important step in any construction, but is critical for a data center. This phase is essential in the construction of a data center, and is broken down into more steps than in the commissioning of a conventional construction such as an office building for example.

Commissioning, definition :

Commissioning (Cx) is the process of ensuring that all systems and components of a building or industrial facility are designed, installed, tested, operated and maintained in accordance with the owner’s or end customer’s operational requirements.

Source: Dutch Data Center Association

What are the challenges of commissioning a data center?

Why is commissioning crucial?

The testing and commissioning of a data center must ensure the quality of the installation. The aim is to test the correct operation of the installation, but also the continuity of services in case of failure. In other words, performing the Cx of a datacenter means ensuring that it will operate under normal conditions and in an optimal way. It also means proving through testing that the datacenter will also operate under abnormal conditions, such as a power failure. The challenge is therefore to prove that the servers are operational in all the scenarios considered.

  • Unique opportunity to check the compliance of the installation’s performance with the specifications

  • Reduces the rate of early failure of critical equipment

  • Opportunity for maintenance and operational teams to gain hands-on experience with the equipment
  • Opportunity for the teams to check the written maintenance procedures that will take place once the commissioning is completed

  • Unique opportunity to test the limits of the installation

What are the key steps to successful commissioning?

Pre commissioning checklist

The anticipation, the choice of partners and the sourcing of high performance loadbanks allow to save time and to realize important savings in fine. Be sure not to neglect this final stage of commissioning, which closes and guarantees the performance of the entire infrastructure put in place. To avoid any misunderstandings, here is a checklist that is important to keep in mind to ensure the final quality of the installation:

  • Thinking about commissioning at the beginning of a data center project can simplify processes

  • Plan by developing a comprehensive schedule for the testing and commissioning process

  • Recruit the right commissioning agent (CxA)

  • Follow the process defined by the commissioning agent

  • Take a holistic approach to commissioning

  • Anticipate the budget

  • Don’t forget the post-occupancy phase

Download your FREE Data Center Commissioning Guide.

Produced by commissioning and data center experts: Dutch Data Center Association (DDA), Rentaload, Vertiv, Unica Data Centers, Deerns, TUVIT.

INSIDE: “Commissioning, Benefits and Processes”; “Best Practices and Cases”; “Toolbox”; in short version (7 pages) and in long version (+50 pages)

Define the level of commissioning

  • Level 1: Factory Test or Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) – validate factory compliance of equipment before installation begins

  • Level 2: On-site Inspection or Acceptance Test (SAT) – Perform a visual inspection of equipment

  • Level 3 : Pre-Functional Testing (PFT) or Component Functional Testing (CFT) – Physically and independently test the performance criteria of each product

  • Level 4 : Functional Performance Test (FT) or Functional System Test (FST) – Test all data transmission networks independently

  • Level 5 : Integrated Systems Testing (IST) – Measure the performance of a data center at maximum design load and in environmental conditions and failure scenarios to ensure operational compliance. This step marks the end of the data center commissioning process.

Define the requirements for the commissioning phase

Infrastructure is a key factor in the choice of load banks and commissioning services. The determining points in the choice of loadbanks are :

  • Are the outlets three-phase or single-phase?
  • What is the amperage per connection / phase?
  • If there are several terminals, what is the maximum power consumption per terminal?
  • If there are several lines, what is the maximum consumption per line?
  • What types of UDPs are in place?

Choose a partner capable of optimized commissioning

It is possible tosave 20% of testing time on levels 3, 4 and 5 of commissioning by opting for an optimized commissioning including :

  • The drafting of the commissioning process upstream by an experienced team
  • The optimal realization of the tests on site with
    connected load banks
  • Recording and processing of data via the Rentalab control software
  • Preparation of the final test report
Download your FREE “Data Centres” white paper.

In this white paper, you will learn:
– how to use a load bank in data center testing and commissioning
– tips, advice and best practices for data center managers, new construction project managers, commissioning engineers, energy and cooling providers and specialized consultants.

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